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Of Simulation and Dissimulation
DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of ♡ Policy, or Wisdome; For it asketh a strong Wit, and a strong Heart, to know, when to tell Truth, and to doe it. Therfore it is the weaker Sort of Politicks, that are the great Dissemblers.
Tacitus saith; Livia sorted well, with the Arts of her Husband, E Dissimulation of her Sonne: Attributing Arts or Policy to Augustus, and Dissimulation to Tiberius. And againe, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian, to take Arms against Vitellius, he saith; We rise not, against the Piercing Iudgment of Augustus, nor the Extreme Caution or Closenesse of Tiberius. These Properties of Arts or Policy, and Dissimulation or Closenesse, are indeed Habits and Faculties, severall, and to be distinguished. For if a Man, have that Penetration of Iudgment, as he can discerne, what Things are to be laid open, and what to be secretted, and what to be shewed at Halfe lights, and to whom, and when, (which indeed are Arts of State, and Arts of Life, as Tacitus well calleth them) to him, A
Habit of Dissimulation, is a Hinderance, and a Poorenesse. But if a Man cannot obtaine to that Iudgment, then it is left to him, generally, to be Close, and a Dissembler. For where a Man cannot choose, or vary in Particulars, there it is good to take the safest and wariest Way in generall; Like the Going softly by one that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest Men, that ever were, have had all an Opennesse, and Francknesse of dealing; And a name of Certainty, and Veracity; But then they were like Horses, well mannaged; For they could tell passing well, when to stop, or turne: And at such times, when they thought the Case indeed, required Dissimulation, if then they used it, it came to passe, that the former Opinion, spred abroad of their good Faith, and Clearnesse of dealing, made them almost Invisible.
There be three degrees, of this Hiding, and Vailing of a Mans Selfe. The first Closenesse, Reservation, and Secrecy; when a Man leaveth himselfe without Observation, or without Hold to be taken, what he is. The second Dissimulation, in the Negative; when a man lets fall Signes, and Arguments, that he is not, that he is. And the third Simulation, in the Affirmative; when a Man industriously, and expressely, faigns, and pretends to be, that he is not.
For the first of these, Secrecy: It is indeed, the Vertue of a Confessour; And assuredly, the Secret Man, heareth many Confessions; For who will open himselfe, to a Blab or a Babler? But if a Man be thought Secret, it inviteth Discoverie; As the more Close Aire, sucketh in the more Open: And as in Confession, the Reveal. ing is not for worldly use, but for the Ease of a Mans Heart, so Secret Men come to the Knowledge of Many Things, in that kinde; while Men rather discharge their Mindes, then impart their Mindes. In few words, Mysteries are due to Secrecy. Besides (to say Truth) Nakednesse is uncomely, as well in Minde, as Body; and it addeth no small Reverence, to Mens Manners, and Actions, if they be not altogether Open. As for Talkers and Futile Persons, they are commonly Vaine, and Credulous withall. For He that talketh, what he knoweth, will also talke, what he knoweth not. Therfore set it downe; That an Habit of Secrecy, is both Politick, and Morall. And in this part, it is good, that a Mans Face, give his Tongue, leave to Speake. For the Discovery, of a Mans Selfe, by the Tracts of his Countenance, is a great Weaknesse, and Betraying; By how much, it is many times, more marked and beleeved, then a Mans words.
For the Second, which is Dissimulation. It followeth many times upon Secrecy, by a necessity: So that, he that will be Secret, must be a Dissembler, in some degree. For Men are too cunning, to suffer a Man, to keepe an indifferent carriage, betweene both, and to be Secret, without Swaying the Ballance, on either side. They will so beset a man with Questions, and draw him on, and picke it out of him, that without an absurd Silence, he must shew an Inclination, one way; Or if he doe not, they will gather as much by his Silence, as by his Speech. As for Equivocations, or Oraculous Speeches, they cannot hold out long. So that no man can be secret, except he give himselfe a little Scope of Dissimulation; which is, as it were, but the Skirts or Traine of Secrecy.
But for the third Degree, which is Simulation, and false Profession; That I hold more culpable, and lesse politicke; except it be in great and rare Matters. And therefore a generall Custome of Simulation (which is this last Degree) is a Vice, rising, either of a naturall Falsenesse, or Fearefulnesse; Or of a Minde, that hath some maine Faults; which because a man must needs disguise, it maketh him practise Simulation, in other things, lest his Hand should be out of ure.
The great Advantages of Simulation and Dissimulation are three. First to lay asleepe Opposition, and to Surprize. For where a Mans Intentions, are published, it is an Alarum, to call up, all that are against them. The second is, to reserve to a Mans Selfe, a faire Retreat: For if a man engage himselfe, by a manifest Declaration, he must goe through, or take a Fall. The third is, the better to discover the Minde of another. For to him that opens himselfe, Men will hardly shew themselves adverse; but will (faire) let him goe on, and turne their Freedome of Speech, to Freedome of thought. And therefore, it is a good shrewd Proverbe of the Spaniard; Tell a lye, and finde a Troth. As if there were no way of Discovery, but by Simulation. There be also three Disadvantages, to set it even. The first, That Simulation and Dissimulation, commonly carry with them, a Shew of Fearfulnesse, which in any Businesse, doth spoile the Feathers, of round flying up to the Mark. The, second, that it pusleth & perplexeth the Conceits of many; that perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him; and makes a Man walke, almost alone, to his owne Ends. The third, and greatest is, that it depriveth a Man, of one, of the most principall Instruments for Action ; which is Trust and Beleefe. The best Composition, and Temperature is, to have Opennesse in Fame and Opinion ; Secrecy in Habit; Dissimulation in seasonable use; And a Power to faigne, if there be no Remedy.